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19th Hole

ICYMI: Sergio Garcia’s 30-minute ruling fiasco explained



While you were watching football and keeping an eye on the PGA Tour leaderboard as Marc Leishman romped to the BMW Championship win, you may have missed an extremely curious occurrence.

The short story is Sergio Garcia made an improbable par save at the par-5 18th hole at Conway Farms to slide into the top 30 and the FedEx Cup points standings and earn a spot in the Tour Championship.

The long story is long…like 30 minutes long. The Spaniard hit his approach shot into a hazard. After considering his options, Garcia consulted with rules official Stephen Cox. He then took two drops that resulted in the ball ending up closer to the hole, so he placed it on his third attempt.

“I knew if I got good contact on it, it would pop up and probably go in the grandstand behind the green,” Garcia said of his eventual third shot. “We started looking at that.”

Golf Channel’s Will Gray wrote about the logic of the ruled that allowed Garcia to drop

“While Rule 24-2 does not allow a player to take relief from a movable obstruction when in a hazard, Cox explained that the temporary nature of the obstruction made Garcia eligible to receive a free drop, provided he remained inside the hazard.

““(If) the player’s ball lies in a water hazard, he would not get relief from an immovable obstruction for like a sprinkler head,” Cox said. “We have very large structures which are situated very close to the water hazard which ordinarily wouldn’t be there, so the rules allow a player to get relief when his ball lies in a water hazard.””

After what amounted to perching his ball on a de facto rock tee, Garcia pitched a hot one over the green that ricocheted off the grandstands. He got up and down from par from where his ball ended up in the green-skirting rough.

“Because the grandstands are there, and the rules are there, I was able to take relief from it and it kind of worked out well for me,” Garcia said.

Indeed, it did. This isn’t quite as dubious as the Ballad of Charley Hoffman, Branden Grace and the Bunker Lining, but it’s, shall we say, a savvy application of the Rules of Golf.

Here’s a (mercifully condensed) video of the drama.

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  1. 2putttom

    Sep 20, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    impatient tikes all over the place.

  2. Chuck

    Sep 20, 2017 at 7:52 am

    I didn’t have a chance to watch a lot of the BMW; but I did watch this incident and I thought it was fascinating. I wish that the announcers spent less time laughing about and apologizing for the delay, and spent more time describing what the Rules were and how Garcia was utilizing them.

    • RMF

      Sep 20, 2017 at 8:04 am

      the problem is they do not know the rules that are being discussed

  3. nyguy

    Sep 19, 2017 at 8:43 am

    funny, we didn’t see any articles complaining about jordan spieth’s 30 min decision in the open.

    • RMF

      Sep 20, 2017 at 8:08 am

      I actually had a huge issue with Spieth’s ruling, not the decision itself it was the fact that the rules official told Spieth where to drop the ball in order to gain the the free drop on the side he wanted. once he took the unplayable the rules official should of offered no further advice until the ball the dropped then advised him of his options.

      I have been surprised very few people haven’t discussed it further

      • Mat

        Sep 21, 2017 at 2:31 am

        Discussing rules is legal, including potential outcomes.

  4. ABM

    Sep 18, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    It should be 1 stroke penalty per 5 minutes of time spend on every ruling

  5. Dat

    Sep 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    I’d rather watch paint dry than a rules incident on the tour. Something must be done about these kinds of things.

  6. asugrad1988

    Sep 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    This is why I record every golf tournament so I can fast forward through stuff like this and I don’t have to watch the commercials either.

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19th Hole

Strokes gained surprise: More distance off the tee doesn’t pay for pros



Writing for, strokes gained inventor/guru, Mark Broadie, filed an interesting (as you would expect) look at driving distance gains on Tour.

No, no, don’t worry. This isn’t a diatribe on the ball going too far, but rather, a look at the players who picked up the most yardage in 2016-2017. Even more interestingly, however, Broadie then examines how the increase in distance translated into a player’s improved performance in strokes gained: off-the-tee…or didn’t as the case seemed to be.

Broadie, “compared driving stats for the 2016 and 2017 seasons, looking at all tee shots on par-4 and par-5 holes,” adjusting for course effects. Check out the professor’s chart.

Broadie’s conclusion: “Added distance doesn’t necessarily lead to lower scores, if too much accuracy is sacrificed” (unless you’re Kyle Stanley).

You can check out Broadie’s full piece and explanation for that conclusion here.

By the way, if you’re wondering how Chappell picked up 10 yards off the tee, his coach, Mark Blackburn, told Broadie it was

“A perfect storm of equipment, ball and a swing change,” Blackburn replied. “He switched drivers, changed to a less ‘spinny’ ball, and lengthened his swing. More hip turn around the trail leg allowed him to load more efficiently and then explode into his lead leg.”

What do you think, GolfWRX members?

And if you’re wondering about the equipment in question, here’s Chappell’s WITB. He switched to a 2016 TaylorMade M1 from a Nike Vapor Flex 440, it seems, but was pictured most recently with a 2017 M1.

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19th Hole

Tiger Woods’ extreme competitiveness, not surprisingly, extends to H-O-R-S-E



Tiger Woods is competitive. Tiger Woods doesn’t like to be beaten at anything. These are eternal truisms in the Tiger Woods story.

If you play the 14-time major champion in, say, ping pong, don’t expect to win. If you face off against the 79-time PGA Tour winner, however, if you have the skills of Air Joe LaCava, you could notch a victory, or nine, but don’t expect it to sit well with the Big Cat. And certainly don’t expect him to feed you!

Here’s what happened, according to Woods’ caddie, Joe LaCava, who recently appeared on the “Inside the Ropes” podcast on Sirius XM.

Squaring off in everyone’s favorite equine-named playground game, LaCava beat Woods in nine straight games of H-O-R-S-E. La Cava, reportedly, relied on a smooth mid-range game to take down Tiger, who was jacking up threes.

“He did not talk to me the rest of the day. I didn’t even get the old text, ‘Dinner is ready,’ because I stay across at the beach house. I didn’t even get that text that night. I had to get takeout,” LaCava said. “He didn’t announce he wasn’t [talking to me], he just didn’t. And I’m telling you, it was nine games in a row. I’m telling you, he’s so competitive, even at something like that.”

Cold. But would you expect anything less? You don’t win the U.S. Open on one good leg in excruciating pain fueled by an average blend of competitive juices. In fact, if we learned Woods had softened in his old age and, say, let LaCava win, that’d be serious cause for concern.

Check out the clip below.

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19th Hole

Phil Mickelson has been ranked in the OWGR top 50 for 24 years. Impressed?



Animalgolfs points out an interesting end-of-the-season factoid: Phil Mickelson has been ranked inside the top 50 of the Official World Golf Ranking for the past 24 years. Also interesting: Mickelson has never been ranked No. 1.

It’s an impressive accomplishment, even allowing for the fact that the ranking wasn’t invented until 1986, right?

Most GolfWRX members think so.

Grm24 writes

“It’s an amazing number. As with the number total number of weeks Tiger was ranked #1 in the OWGR that will likely never be touched, I do not for foresee any current player finishing in the OWGR top 50 for the next 24+ years. An excellent tribute to Phils longevity and overall play.”

Bye agrees

“That’s seriously impressive, especially when you add in how much the equipment has changed during that time.”

JerseyBoy says

“He’s in my top 5. Love to watch him. And he is doing all that with an Autoimmune Disease which is amazing in and of itself.”

However, not everyone is impressed by the left-hander’s achievement. Ferguson, who is not a member of the Phil Mickelson Fan Club, says (pulled from several posts)

“And this statistic, while worthy of a mention, is not that outstanding when considering it is based on a world ranking system that started in 1986.

“He (Phil) had the skills but never had the potential. He lacked the mental capacity to stick to a consistent game plan week after week, and execute. He made a lot of bad choices.

“Phil was a circus act, replete with pompous showmanship. Sure, he was good for the TV audience – we all like to watch a guy with no self control. He could have been number one had he stopped trying to be so darn fabulous all of the time.”

Eventually, Ferguson says that Mickelson is a great player, one of the top-25 of all-time, but that he sees little value in this particular achievement.

What do you think, GolfWRX members? Is Mickelson’s achievement closer to Tiger Woods’ cut streak or “who cares?”

Check out the forum thread and have your say.


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